As rental rates continue to climb, students are finding it harder and harder to find affordable housing. That’s why some St. John’s residents have launched a program that matches senior homeowners with students in need of a place to stay.
After three years of research, Home Share Newfoundland and Labrador announced Thursday it is actively recruiting seniors and students to participate in the pilot program.
The program is supported by grants from the City of St. John’s and the provincial and federal governments.
Based on successful home share programs in other cities, Home Share NL will match students with homeowners older than 50 who have a spare room. Homeowners rent rooms in their house for below market value and students can even exchange services, like help around the house, for part of their rent.
Kirby Dunn, who runs Home Share Vermont, said she’s learned that home sharing benefits homeowners as much as cash-strapped students.
The people in her program who open up their homes report feeling safer in their house and less lonely.
But there are caveats.
“Students sometimes have a bad reputation,” Dunn said.
She cautions renters in the program that they are more guest than roommate. Renters need to tell the owner when they will be in and out of the home, and often are not allowed to have guests of their own in the home.
“Home share isn’t a great option for those who want a wild night out,” Dunn said.
The program will match students with seniors, but allows the two parties to work out particulars — like rent and house rules — amongst themselves.
For those who are flexible, the program can be a lifeline to students in need of housing.
Rent in St. John’s has increased more than seven per cent in the past year, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. The bulk of renters in the city are under 25 years old and students, or just starting out in their careers.
Memorial University’s off-campus housing office reports it had at least 160 student housing requests in July.
Home Share NL hopes to match a few students with seniors before September in order to accommodate the fall semester.
More information is available online at http://www.homesharenl.ca/.
This is a corrected version.